The Sanity Clause
19 / 12 / 2012
STATISTICS prove that the greatest air cargo logistician of all time is undoubtedly Santa Claus.
Better than FedEx, Lufthansa Cargo, or even DHL, Santa sets the trend for fast, precise air cargo deliveries, with not a single security lapse, no airwaybills and absolutely no charges-collect. Here is an analysis of his tremendous, record-beating air cargo skills, honed over the centuries and a lesson to all air cargo professionals everywhere:
No known species of reindeer can fly, but there are reckoned to be some 400,000 species of other living organisms yet to be classified, and while the majority of these are insects and germs, this does not completely rule out the existence of Pratt & Whitney-enhanced flying reindeer which, of course, only Santa himself knows about.
Meanwhile, there are two billion consignee children (persons under 18) in the world, but since Santa doesn’t handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist kids, that reduces his workload to 15 per cent of the total – 378 million, according to the population reference bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children-per-household, that’s 91.8 million homes, presuming there’s at least one good child in each.
With only 31 hours of Christmas transit time to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, and assuming he travels east to west, this works out to 822.6 deliveries-per-second.
This means that for each Christian household, with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining shipments under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, scramble back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and then move on to the next house.
Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household – a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding (taking on fuel) etc.
This means that Santa’s sleigh freighter is moving at 650 miles-per-second, 3,000 times the speed of sound and substantially quicker than a new B747-8F. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a nippy 27.4 miles per second – a conventional reindeer can run at 15 miles per hour.
The payload on the sleigh freighter adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set (one kilo), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tonnes, not counting Santa.
On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 140 kilos. This means Santa cannot do the job with eight reindeer. He needs 214,200 of the beasts.
This increases the payload – not even counting the tare weight of the sleigh freighter itself – to 353,430 tonnes. For comparison, this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, and about twice that of Swissport’s JB’s wallet.
As you will know, 353,000 tonnes, travelling at 650 miles per second, creates enormous air resistance. This heats the reindeer up in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will then absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy, per second, each.
In short, they will burst into flames, almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vapourised within 4.26 thousandths of a second.
Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4.3 million pounds of force.
This is what you call delivering against the odds. But there remains one key Christmas question: If Santa can do all of this, why hasn’t he adopted eFreight?